CCA Astronomy Fall 2012

Time: Tuesday 6:30-8:00
Teacher: Dr. Robert Sheldon
Phone: 256/653-8592 (cell)
email: rbs* (change asterisk to at-sign)
Location: CCA Engineering Room unless otherwise planned.
Text: Astronomy: Journey to the Cosmic Frontier 5th ed. By John D. Fix (science dean at UAH)

Please read the assigned chapter before class, which is generally about 20 pages. That way you can ask questions about the chapter when I am lecturing on it. Classes will begin with a 3 minute quiz on the reading.

The chapters have varying levels of difficulty. Some are mostly history, some are mostly geometry, and every once in a while there's some physics. We'll tailor the course to the background of the class, but don't worry if sometimes the chapter seems too mathematical—most of the time that's just for show. The important thing about this class is its breadth—it ties together ancient history, the Holy Bible, modern astrophysics, naked-eye observations, and current NASA missions.

The grading will be 50% tests, and 50% participation (class attendance, quizzes, labs, observatory trips, etc). The Von Braun Astronomical Society has an observatory and planetarium on Monte Sano Mountain which is open on Saturday nights for planetarium shows and general observing afterwards. The cost is $3 for students, $5 for adults. Visit their website at for more information. We'll plan on two Saturday nights in the fall to do some observing with their 3" telescopes, but the sky isn't dark enough yet to start. If there is enough interest, perhaps we can get some time on the 14" and the 16" telescopes, but it will require extra preparation and training to get near this expensive equipment.

Homework/"labwork" will be assigned as we find opportunities to do some naked-eye observing. The textbook comes with a CD program that helps predict what you will see in the night sky, and you may want to make sure you have that software (or freeware alternatives) because we will be using it to plan our own backyard observing.

My goal for this class is to give you a sense of where we stand, as God's image-bearer, in the glorious creation we call the universe; conveying just a small bit of the awe that has us saying with David (Ps 8) “Oh Yahweh, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! When I look at the heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the Moon and the stars which you have established, What is Man?...”
FALL Class Schedule
1:Aug 28 27: Life in the Universe pp. 645—657 & Gen 1 Quiz 1Lecture 1
2:Sept 4 1: The Journey's Start pp. 1—11 Quiz 2Lecture 2
3: Sep 11 2: Patterns in the Sky pp. 17—31 Quiz 3
4: Sep 18 3: Ancient Astronomy pp. 37—53 Quiz 4
5: Sep 25 4: Renaissance Astronomy pp. 57—74
6: Oct 2 5: Gravity and Motion pp. 79—95 Quiz 5Lecture 5
7: Oct 9 6: Light & Telescopes pp. 101—124 Quiz 6
8:Oct 16- Semester Midterm Exam
9: Oct 23 7: Overview of the Solar System pp. 131—147
10:Oct 30 (8)9: Moon, & skim 8: The Earth (pp. 172-175) pp 181—202 Quiz 7
11:Nov 6 10: Mercury & Venus pp. 207—227 Quiz 8
12:Nov 13 11(14): Mars (+14: pp. 316—319) Quiz 9
13:Nov 20 Thanksgiving Break! (no class)
14:Nov 27 12(14): Jupiter and Saturn (+ 14: pp. 320—333) Quiz 10
15:Dec 4 13(14): Uranus, Neptune & abused Pluto. (+ 14:pp. 335—338) Quiz 11
16:Dec 11 15: Small Solar System Bodies(asteroids,comets) 345—369Quiz 12
17:Dec 18 Semester Final Exam
1:Jan 8 16: Stars Lecture 20
2:Jan 15 16: Stars Quiz 21Lecture 21
3:Jan 22 17: Sun Quiz 22Lecture 22
4:Jan 29 18: Stellar Formation Quiz 23Lecture 23
5:Feb 5 19: Stellar Evolution Quiz 24Lecture 24
6:Feb 12 19: Stellar Evolution Quiz 25Lecture 25
7:Feb 19 20: White Dwarfs, Black HolesQuiz 26Lecture 26
8:Feb 26Semester Midterm Exam
9:Mar 5 21: Binary Stars Quiz 27Lecture 27
10:Mar 12 Comet Party! No Quiz
11:Mar 19 22: Milky Way Quiz 28Lecture 28
12:Mar 26 Easter Week!
13:Apr 2 23: Galaxies Quiz 29Lecture 29
14:Apr 924-25: Quasars Quiz 30Lecture 30
15:Apr 16 26: Cosmology Quiz 31Lecture 31
17:Apr 23 Semester Final Exam

Last edited Jan 8, 2013